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Bugs that look like termites

Bugs that look like termites


Are those termites or other bugs in your home? in Chicago try a termite inspection!


Knowing how to identify termites is a useful skill to have, especially if you own a home. Termites are cunning little pests that can enter your home through a crack as thin as an envelope and begin causing damage as soon as they find wood in the structure of your home.

A well-organized termite colony can have over a million hungry workers per year, consuming over 100 pounds of wood per year, and the average cost of termite treatment and damage repairs is more than $10,000*.

However, contrary to popular belief, just because a home has wood damage does not always imply that the suspect is a termite. Carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, and carpenter bees are examples of insects that feed on or build their homes in wood. Because they behave similarly to termites, they are not always correctly identified or treated.


Insect detection is one of the most important steps in home security. To do so, it's critical to understand not only what termites look like, but also what other pests can be confused with termites, so you know what you're dealing with and how to remove it.


Termites: What Do They Look Like to the Untrained Eye?

What is the best way to tell if a bug is a termite? Here are some examples of characteristics:


  • Length: About a half-inch or less

  • Features: Straight waist (the area of the body between the midsection and the hind section), straight antennae, and equal-length wings

  • White to light brown in color

Termites can be found all over the United States, but they are more common in warmer climates. A termite cannot tell the difference between a tree in the yard and the lumber used to build our houses, so they could be found in either location.


You may have also heard that termites thrive in soil. This is correct. Some, on the other hand, do not require any soil at all. Subterranean termites, as well as those that build their colonies above ground, may be found depending on where you live. Either type can be damaging to a home. It is critical for termite control professionals to be able to differentiate between species in order to provide proper treatment.

Subterranean, Formosan, and drywood termites are the three most common termites in the United States.

  • Subterranean termites are cream-colored and pale, with brown heads in some cases. Eastern subterranean termites are the most common type of termite, and despite their preference for warmer climates, they have been found in all states except Alaska.

  • Formosan termites have wings and are yellowish-brown in color. They are a subterranean termite species. They are aggressive feeders with colonies five to seven times the size of eastern subterranean termites. They are typically found in the southeastern United States and Hawaii.

  • Drywood termites are typically pale brown, but they can also be dark brown or light yellowish-tan. Some, but not all, have clear or smoky gray wings. They can be found in the states between California and Florida, where the weather is mild and the winters are mild.


What Kinds of Bugs Can Be Mistook for Termites?

Some bugs can be mistaken for termites based on their behavior rather than their appearance. Here are a few examples.


Carpenter ants are a type of ant.

Carpenter ants do not necessarily resemble termites, but both carpenter ants and termites damage wood and can swarm, which can lead to confusion. Carpenter ants, like termites, swarm during mating and some have wings. However, here are some distinctions between carpenter ants:

  • Their waists are tapered rather than straight.

  • They are dark in color.

  • They're usually bigger than termites.

  • Their wings are unequally sized, with the back wings being shorter than the front.

  • Moreover, while many ant species swarm and have wings, carpenter ants are frequently confused with termites due to their wood-damaging abilities.



Powderpost beetles

A powderpost beetle can cause as much damage to a house as a termite. They feed by tunneling into wood and breaking it down into a powder-like material. This all happens beneath the surface of the wood. The presence of this powdery substance, as well as small holes in the wood, are two indicators of an infestation.

Powderpost beetles are difficult to spot because they are excellent hiders and spend the majority of their time working at night. Some are drawn to sunlight and may be found near damaged wood or near a window on occasion.

Except for a few general insect characteristics, such as having six legs, powderpost beetles don't resemble termites or ants. They are misidentified as termites due to the damage they cause rather than their appearance. But, if you happen to see one, here's what it looks like:

  • Size: 1/8 to 3/4 inch in length

  • Color: Various shades of reddish brown to black.

  • Slender bodies with a head that hangs downward and is hidden by the cylindrical body.


Carpenter bees are a type of bee.

Carpenter bees, like carpenter ants and powderpost beetles, are mistaken for termites due to the damage they cause to wood rather than their appearance. Carpenter bees, like carpenter ants, do not feed on wood, but they do tunnel into it, drilling holes and building nests. Their holes are larger than carpenter ant holes and can be up to an inch in diameter.

Carpenter bees do not cause as much damage as termites, but they can cause cosmetic and even structural damage. The real trouble begins when female carpenter bees lay eggs in the wood, forming new populations and spreading the infestation over time. Rot and decay are caused by the holes they drill in the wood.

Carpenter bees resemble bumble bees in appearance, but their abdomens are smooth and shiny rather than hairy and yellow. They are also devoid of yellow markings on the abdomen.




Once you've determined which type of pest you're dealing with, the next step is to devise a removal and treatment strategy. While there are some do-it-yourself methods you can try, consulting professionals like us is the most effective — and long-lasting — solution. Call A1 Pest Masters right away at (773) 365-9962 and don't give these intruders a chance to colonize!


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